The National Health Service is turning 70 on 5 July 2018, and it’s the perfect opportunity for communities the length and breadth of the country to celebrate the achievements of one of the nation’s most loved institutions, and arguably one of Britain’s greatest achievements of the twentieth century.

Each and every one of us has a personal NHS story. From birth, through life, our health service is there for us, with committed doctors and nurses who take care of us and our families when we need it most. Because of this, it is impossible to count the individual achievements of our NHS.

It’s delivered medical advances and improvements to public health, helping us all to live longer lives. It’s also thanks to our NHS that we have all but eradicated diseases such as polio and diphtheria, and pioneered new treatments like the world’s first liver, heart and lung transplants. Without doubt, the NHS is one of the great unifying institutions of our country – young or old, left or right, north or south, our NHS is universally respected.

Perhaps the most wonderful thing about the NHS is its people. The skill, care and dedication they provide every day is truly inspirational.

It’s also on anniversaries such as these that we remember the unwavering professionalism and dedication of the doctors, nurses and paramedics who are on the frontline every day, which is particularly poignant this year as we remember the first anniversary of the attack on the Manchester Arena. In the immediate minutes and hours after the attacks NHS staff, as well as police and other emergency services, headed towards the danger in order to help those who needed it.

I would like to pay tribute to every member of our NHS and the wonderful volunteers who do so much to support them – we owe you all a huge debt of gratitude.

Today our healthcare system continues to be at the forefront of innovation with NHS England the only health system in the world to commit itself to lowering its carbon consumption—by 80% by 2050.

A lot has changed since 1948, from the first mass vaccination programmes of the 1950s and the birth of district hospitals in the 1960s, to today’s sophisticated technology, increased care in the community and the development of coordinated care across organisational boundaries.

However, what hasn’t changed over the past 70 years is the principle of delivering the very best physical and mental health care, free at the point of use, for everyone.

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